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Posts from the ‘Colombia’ Category

Catching Up in Winter

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It has been a long time since I’ve written one of these catch up posts. It’s probably only because we’re deep into the snow-globe months that I’m able to now.  Seeing the links I’ve flagged over the last few weeks, it’s clear that each one has been an escape from black and white (or blue) days:

Since virtual travel is my only option these days, I’ve been spending a lot of time getting lost in Roads & Kingdoms. There’s an amazing scale to the photographs and balance in the stories that’s really lovely.  This Colombia’ Bloom Boom story is just one example.

I also loved reading this story about Puerto Rican chefs, purveyors and activists reinventing farm to table in the tropics (via the New York Times).  I had no plans to visit but this has me plotting a return.  In the meantime, there’s this Saveur round up of recipes from the island.

I’ve never had a problem with French waiters. I personally enjoy their polished but short-fused manners. But if you do, this article in their defense provides some context for the haughtiness.

Trying to go beyond understanding to actually making myself understood, I’ve been flipping through the Farm to Table French Phrasebook by Victoria Mas. It’s my latest attempt to build on the spotty movie French I’ll likely never use with some solid food French that I absolutely will.

I stop to read anything by or about Patti Smith but this brief interview in Medium ended with a surprisingly powerful description of her mother and her famous potato salad.

I rarely want to go out when it’s this ugly-cold which means I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about changing up anything and everything in my apartment – #cabinfevermakeover.  For inspiration, I’ve been looking here, also here, and sometimes here. When it’s time to actually time to do something about it, I’ll want to go here but will most likely end up here.

I’m also obsessing over DIY/start from scratch projects. I keep pricing pasta makers then remind myself in Carroll Gardens you’re always a block and a half away from freshly made pasta by people who know what they’re doing.  Low tech tortellinis,  however, are still on my list.  Tasting Table has been putting out great videos lately but this tutorial featuring Giovanni Rana has become a favorite.

Everyone was talking about the dress last week but it seemed like minor news compared to the discovery of tetrachromats among us, capable of seeing 100 million colors at once. I can’t imagine what that must be like but the incredible exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic gave me some idea of what it could look like.

Finally, it’s Lent but I haven’t decided what I should give up (though apparently I’m in good company).  My sister Carmen is doing a #somethingbeautiful series on instagram this year. I’m always amazed at the quiet moments she captures – especially when she hits Brooklyn. You can follow here.

Dulce de Mora

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The weather is defrosting, but I spent Sunday half inside my freezer where I found the nearly forgotten bag of moras.  Also called Andean blackberries, moras are a little more tart, firmer, and brighter than the blackberries commonly found in the US.  I’d picked them up in an amazing Latin American market in Jackson Heights.  Well-stocked with incredible variety but hard to get to, I brought back as much as I could carry.  A few months later, I’ve barely made a dent in the frozen guavas, jarred loroco, or guasca leaves I stockpiled.  I was looking to change this and remembered a dessert my friend’s mother, Mari Ines, made when she was teaching me how to make ajiaco Bogotano.  In the time it took her to finish the ajiaco, she simmered the berries in syrup and served them with queso fresco.  After calling Mari Ines for the recipes and ratios, I quickly made it for friends that night.  There are so many things I’m looking forward to this summer, but in these in between days, it felt good to take advantage of what I already had. Read more

Ajiaco Bogotano

It seems that every time I look for a Colombian recipe, I fall into a soup bowl. With winter going fast and a long weekend to seek out hard to find ingredients, I was finally ready to attempt ajiaco Bogotano. Until recently, I’d only know the Cuban version – a heavy blend of root vegetables, plantains, pork and beef. In Bogota, ajiaco is a chicken only affair, thickened with three kinds of potatoes and flavored with cilantro, scallions and guascas, a pre-Columbian herb with medicinal properties and daisy relatives. When I tried it for the first time last year, I loved the ritual of adding your own dollop of thick cream, briny capotes, sliced avocado and even more cilantro from the garnishes brought to the table. Looking for a recipe, my friend Carolina’s mother, Mari Ines, tried to walk me through it on the phone but I wasn’t quite getting it. I knew I’d be home for a few days so I more or less invited myself over see it done first hand. Read more

Caldo de Costilla

I’ve started to think of Los Paisanos meat market on Smith Street as my own, personal, model UN. Ostensibly Italian, it’s largely staffed by Central and South Americans. Though helpful when I’m looking to translate a recipe, it can get touchy. Guatemala may concede but Mexico isn’t too happy when I defer to Colombia.  This is what happened when I went there a couple of weeks ago with a vague idea that I wanted to try caldo de costilla – a Colombian beef rib broth flavored with potatoes, scallions and cilantro. Not surprisingly, without consensus, the results were uneven. Read more

Catching Up in March

March has been such a whirl that I made it all the way to April before I could stop and catch my breath. It started well with my first contribution to the Cooking Channel’s Devour the Blog  and it was great to see so many of you making the jump. A new post on stocking my Latin pantry went up yesterday with more to follow. I laid my cupboard bare (well I straightened it up first) so I hope you’ll visit the site again and let us know what’s in yours.  I also wrote a piece about Latin American staples – Running with the Grains -  for Marcus Samuelsson‘s Food Republic that combines two favorite obsessions – seeking out new ingredients and running till I just can’t anymore.  A new site covering everyone from Junot Diaz to Michelle Bernstein (who also helps spices up school lunches here), I was thrilled to be a part of their launch this week. Read more

Arroz con Coco

Arroz con coco rates high on the long list of things I should have tried sooner.  A staple of Caribbean cooking, especially along the coast of Colombia, it’s essentially white rice cooked with coconut milk then served with fried fish, plantains, avocado.  Deceptively simple, I used equal parts canned light coconut milk and water for the first attempt, combining all the ingredients and bringing them to a fast boil.  The result was great if I was going for rice pudding but otherwise too sticky and un-fluffable.  Trying to get the proportions and the timing right, I used a second can and sautéed the rice with a little bit of oil before adding the liquid.  It may have worked but I let it go too long and the amount of rice was way off, so it burned before it cooked. Read more

Tequila-Cured Salmon Gravlax

A friend from Seattle once described his family’s Christmas tree ritual.  Every December, they’d go to the woods, pick a tree, argue a little, cut it down, then bring it home where they’d have hot chocolate together.  A lovely story, but so wholesome, it seemed exotic.  Told to a bunch of urbanites who believed Christmas trees sprouted up spontaneously from the sidewalks in front of grocery stores once a year, we wanted to know if there was a designated “tree section” of the forest.  That’s the way I felt about making my own gravlax which I’d only bought pre-packaged and ready to serve (random connection I know but they’re both related to the Pacific Northwest).  I love sushi, ceviche and all things smoked and cured, but when it comes to fish, I relied on chefs and Nova Scotians to tell me when it’s raw and when it’s lunch.  This week I found a recipe for tequila-cured salmon topped with mango and lime relish that changed my mind. Read more

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